Obama was not a radical. He was a reformist, and he brought those tendencies to his foreign policy decisions. The War in Afghanistan was a complicated situation where Obama chose to keep a steady hand. The Afghanistan government was corrupt, and the Taliban's presence in the country controlled the ordinary population. American troops' presence in the region was essential to maintaining order. Although Obama had initially wanted to be an anti-war president, he knew that pulling all troops out of the country would have catastrophic consequences.
One year into Obama's presidency, the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended deploying seventeen thousand more troops into Afghanistan to defend against the Taliban forces. Almost immediately after Obama authorized the deployment, the Joint Chiefs and the commander of US forces in Afghanistan requested an additional forty thousand troops, on top of the seventeen thousand he had just deployed. Around the same time, Obama was shocked to learn he would be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He felt conflicted at the fact that he would be receiving the prize at the same time he was sending thousands more Americans to war.
Not long after, in 2010, thousands of demonstrators began protesting in Tahrir Square in Egypt, demanding the removal of their leader, Hosni Mubarak. While Obama had idealistic support for democratic reform, the United States also benefited from Egypt's stability in the region. Although Mubarak was a dictator, he had kept Egypt stable, and an Islamist organization known as the Muslim Brotherhood was the most powerful political group in the country. They would be waiting to take over in the power vacuum Mubarak would leave behind, which would be bad for US-Middle East relations. However, despite the risks, Obama decided to speak out in support of the protests and ask Mubarak on a private phone call to resign. When he did not, Obama then called on Mubarak publicly to step down. Mubarak did finally step down, which marked the end of an era in the Middle East.